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This Week in PLoS: Jul 11, 2011

In PLoS Biology this week, an international consortium of genomic scientists and bioinformaticians known as the GRC, or Genome Reference Consortium, discusses ways it intends to 'modernize' reference genome assemblies. Members of the GRC this week discuss issues related to genome assembly quality and management. "The GRC has addressed these problems by establishing common tools and standard operating procedures, so that the genome assembly is now constructed in a regularized fashion. We have developed a single database to store all data underlying the genome assembly," the authors write, adding that they've also "developed a system to track individual regions that are under review."

Over in PLoS One, investigators at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., the Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, NH, and elsewhere report on "genetic determinants of UV-susceptibility in non-melanoma skin cancer." By targeting the UV-induced immunosuppression pathway "and using a large population-based study of NMSC [non-melanoma skin cancer]," the team determined the "risk associated with functional variants in 10 genes," observing the most prominent single genetic effect at IL10. "Having two IL10 GC haplotypes was associated with increased odds ratios of BCC [basal cell carcinoma] and SCC [squamous cell carcinoma], and these associations were largely confined to women," the authors write, adding that "in women, skin type, burns, and IL10 were the most critical risk factors in SCC."

Elsewhere in the same journal, the National Cancer Institute's Thomas O'Brien et al. describe "an IL28B genotype-based clinical prediction model for treatment of chronic hepatitis C," or CHC. In reporting results from NCI's HALT-C trial, O'Brien and his colleagues conclude that their IL28B genotype-based clinical prediction model, when considered along with other appropriate clinical variables, "can yield useful individualized predictions of the probability of treatment success that could increase SVR [sustained virological response] rates and decrease the frequency of futile treatment among patients with CHC."

And in PLoS Computational Biology this week, Philip Bourne and Virginia Barbour propose 10 simple rules "for building and maintaining a scientific reputation." Bourne and Barbour say that while they "cannot articulate exactly what defines the less quantitative side of a scientific reputation," they intend their paper to seed a discussion as to what does. For its part, the duo suggests that the first 'simple rule' is to "think before you act." The authors "invite you to crowd source a better description and path to achieving such a reputation by using the comments feature associated with this article," they write.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.